Monday, 2 December 2013

A Bordeaux Dynasty

Author: Francoise Bourdin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type: Kindle e-book Advanced Reading Copy
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
First Published: November 12, 2013
First Line: "Bordeaux, 100 miles - Robert had only glanced at the road sign, more concerned about the two trucks ahead."

Book Description from GoodReadsThe Laverzac family gathers twice a year around its patriarch, Aurélien, on its magnificent vineyard in Bordeaux. But this particular summer, a storm of family tension starts to simmer—one that will be far more devastating than anything that could beat down on the grapes.

With the vineyard’s future at stake, Aurélien, who has dedicated his whole life to it, fights to preserve his domain by choosing his successor. Jules, the youngest of four sons, adopted thirty years earlier, seems to be the only possible candidate. He possesses all of the necessary qualities for managing the vineyard: he is charismatic, an excellent leader, and loves working the land.

But why should the adopted son inherit this colossal fortune? The vineyard is full of rumors. And Alexandre, the only son to have settled in the area, takes great offense.
Passions flare, fueled by the rivalry between the brothers, the jealousies of the women in their lives, the demands of the land, and the hierarchy of the region where the only things that count are the grape harvest and the next vintage.

In the heart of this storm, it is up to Jules to confront the ghosts of his past and face who he is.

Through this rich story in the heart of the Bordeaux vineyards, Françoise Bourdin explores the dramas that threaten the future of one family’s name and estate.

Note: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Open Road Integrated Media for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  I love a large, epic read that I get utterly and hopelessly lost in.  When I found this book on NetGalley I figured I could dive in and become immersed in the story, forget about the craziness of my little world for awhile and just enjoy. 

The book started off well.  I was intrigued as each character was introduced (especially the mystery of Jules' mother) but somewhere around the halfway point the energy seemed to wane and I started to lose interest.  It seemed to go from a family saga (complete with passion, betrayals and jealousies, oh MY!) to something that felt like it was more from an 80's episode of Dynasty or Dallas script which had a slightly 'fromage' feel to it with it's characters literally rolling in the hay, bed hopping and half dressed at odd moments.

In an epic read I need to get behind the characters because it's their misdeeds/love affairs etc that I need to believe in order to stick around for the duration of such a long read.  Unfortunately I didn't feel connected to any of the characters.  They were shallow, self serving narcissists who were constantly making choices that hurt those they claimed to love.  {Can you hear the Dallas theme song?}  Pretty much all of the characters acted this way.  They did whatever they wanted, with whomever they wanted and were surprised when problems arose from the obviously bad decisions they had made previously. 

There were also a tonne of characters that were introduced in the beginning (the brothers, spouses etc) and I admit that I found it so confusing to remember who was married or cheating on whom that I made a cheat sheet to keep track.  This book felt like it was more about a bunch of love triangles that just happened to be set in a beautiful vineyard in France.  I guess I was expecting a lot more energy and twists to this book that ultimately came off as predictable to me.

Another issue that I had was some of the terms or colloquialisms that were used.  The book was written in French and then translated into English and I feel that the translation could have been better.  There were many colloquialisms that were used that didn't feel like they fit in with the setting or characters.  For example, "son of a gun" and "when Dad learned about it ... he had a cow".  I've never lived in France but that sounds like much more of a North American slang (a la Bart Simpson) than something I could envision being used on a vineyard in Bordeaux.  For me, a translation like that interrupts the flow of the story and makes my attention focus on the odd word placement instead of the storyline.

I'm disappointed that I didn't enjoy this book more.  I was really eager to read this book after I was sent a video from the publisher detailing the author's ideas behind the book. While I enjoyed the descriptions of the vineyards in France and the premise I have to admit that I really struggled to finish the book.  I was hoping for more energy, more twists and a faster pace.

My Rating: 3/5 stars


Stacy Overman Morrison said...

Thoughtful review. I appreciate the attention to the translation throwing off the feel of the prose.

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Thanks Stacy. Sometimes it's not the characters or plot that prevent me from truly enjoying a book. Sometimes something as little as some poor translations or phrases that just don't seem to fit that detract from my overall enjoyment of a book.

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